Reflections from a tarnished mirror: an application of Alvesson and Sköldberg's 'reflexive interpretation' to a study of curriculum design in higher education

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Abstract

It is now widely understood that reflexivity constitutes a vital element of good qualitative research. However, reflexive accounts often draw on a single theoretical framework, thus privileging and legitimizing a particular interpretation of empirical data. This paper focuses on Alvesson and Sköldberg's ‘reflexive interpretation’, which arises from the interplay between the perspectives of grounded theory, hermeneutics, critical theory and postmodernism. The positioning of the researcher in such a multi-paradigmatic relationship to the empirical data offers the potential for deeper meaning. By applying Alvesson and Sköldberg's approach to a case study of curriculum design, I explore issues of teaching reflection to postgraduate students. Problematizing the case study data at the level of hermeneutics provides insights into the temporality, complexity and symbolic meaning disclosed through the interpretive act. Whilst critical theory locates the findings within the political-ideological context, the postmodern perspective questions my power and authority as a teacher-researcher of reflection.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-241
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Research and Method in Education
Volume37
Issue number3
Early online date30 Jul 2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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